European Companies Commit to Carbon Reductions, Align with SDGs

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European Companies Commit to Carbon Reductions, Align with SDGs

2 June 2017: Private companies across Europe are undertaking actions to address the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through reducing their carbon footprint and aligning their objectives with the SDGs. Impact investing also is increasing, whereby investors can generate social and environmental impact and contribute to the SDGs without compromising financial gain, while the world’s largest biotechnology company has highlighted how businesses can monetize the opportunities presented by the SDGs. L’Oréal, BNP Paribas and the champagne industry are undertaking efforts to reduce their carbon footprints, which will help achieve SDG 13 (climate action), among other Sustainable Development Goals. Through its ‘Sharing Beauty With All’ programme, L’Oréal has reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its plants and distribution centers by 67%. In 2016, L’Oréal received ‘triple A’ ratings by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) on climate protection, sustainable water management and combating deforestation. These actions contribute to achieving SDGs 6 (clean water and sanitation), 7 (affordable and clean energy), 12 (responsible consumption and production), in particular target 12.6 (Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle), and 15 (life on land). Only two of 3,000 companies assessed globally obtained a ‘triple A’ score in 2016.

BNP Paribas announced, on 3 May 2017, that it aims to become carbon neutral by the end of 2017, including by: promoting energy efficiency at its buildings and data centers; using low-carbon electricity in countries where it is available; and offsetting emissions that cannot be directly avoided or easily reduced, such as from staff travel and natural gas consumption, through partnerships with ‘benchmark organizations.’ BNP Paribas also has doubled earmarked funds for financing renewable energy to €15 billion by 2020, and halted the financing of coal-fired power plant projects. This action is relevant to SDG target 7.2 (By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix).

The future of the champagne industry depends on adapting to climate change, as “the smallest changes in soil, sun, harvest and terroir can threaten a whole year’s harvest.”

In France, the Comité Champagne, the trade association for independent producers of champagne, is implementing the Champagne Climate Plan to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. It plans to reduce emissions by 25% by 2020, and by 75-80% by 2050. Between 2003 and 2010, the Comité reports that the champagne industry reduced its carbon footprint by 15%. The Plan is being implemented in, inter alia, viticulture and oenology, transport and buildings. The Comité notes that “climate skeptics are scarce” in the Champagne region, because of changes seen in the last 15 years. The future of the industry, worth US$5.2 billion per year, depends on adapting to climate change, as “the smallest changes in soil, sun, harvest and terroir can threaten a whole year’s harvest.”

Other efforts include impact investing. For example, in Sweden, the Second AP Fund (AP2), one of the largest pension funds in northern Europe, announced on 2 June that it has invested US$50 million in The Rise Fund, a private equity fund whose objectives are aligned with the SDGs. The Rise Fund contends that private firms can make a positive contribution to sustainability without compromising on financial returns. It argues that challenges presented by the SDGs also are opportunities for investors to have an impact by contributing to the Goals. The Rise Fund measures the impact a potential investment is expected to have during its investment life cycle, particularly with respect to the SDGs.

Finally, the Head of Corporate Sustainability Affairs, Novozymes, the world’s largest industrial biotechnology company, underscored the long-term growth potential attributable to the SDGs. In an interview of 23 May 2017, Claus Stig Pedersen discussed linking executive compensation at Novozymes to SDG performance, and the authentic use of the SDGs, as distinguished from “greenwashing.” He highlighted how businesses monetize opportunity presented by the SDGs, and the value of a methodology and framework to effectively measure corporate contribution to the Goals within ten years. [CRS Europe News Story on L’Oréal’s Progress] [L’Oréal Sharing Beauty with All Progress Report] [BNP Paribas Carbon Neutrality Plan] [Champagne Climate Plan] [GreenBiz Article on Champagne Climate Plan] [AP2 Press Release] [Interview with Claus Stig Pedersen, Novozymes]


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